DURBAN – Tobacco giant British American Tobacco shareholders are in for an early Christmas present after the group announced that its dividend for the quarter to end December 2018 will be paid on November 14.

This comes after the group declared a dividend of 203 pence a share in the year to end December 2018.

The group said the dividend is payable in four equal quarterly installments of 50.75p an ordinary share. The dividend of 50.75p a quarter will be payable in May, August, November and February 2020.

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However, the group said it reports in sterling, therefore dividends are declared and payable in sterling except for shareholders on the branch register in South Africa whose dividends are payable in rand.

“A rate of exchange of £1 equals to R18.42 as at September 19, the closing rate on that date as quoted by Bloomberg, results in an equivalent November 2019 dividend of 934.59 SA cents an ordinary share,” the group said.

After accounting for a South Africa Dividends Tax at a rate of 20 percent, equivalent to 186.92 SA cents an ordinary share, the net dividend for South African shareholders will amount to 747.67 SA cents an ordinary share.

The group said the November dividend is regarded as a "foreign dividend" for the purposes of the South Africa Dividends Tax.

In the year to end December the group reported a 45.2 percent increase in profit from operations to £9.31 billion while adjusted diluted earnings per share (Eps) increased by 11.8 percent to 296.7 pence a share.

Chief executive Nicandro Durante said BAT performed well in 2018 and exceeded its target of high single figure adjusted constant currency Eps growth, while continuing to invest in long-term sustainable returns.

“The full year effect of the Reynolds (RAI) acquisition and a translational foreign exchange headwind of approximately 6 percent (on revenue and profit from operations) and 7 percent (on Eps) distorted the group's results. On an adjusted, constant currency, representative basis, this was a strong performance across the business,” Durante said.

BAT acquired the 57.8 percent stake of Reynolds it did not already own, for $54.5bn in 2017 to boost its next-generation products (NGPs).

The group also reported excellent progress in its Tobacco Heating Products (THP) and vapour, with adjusted revenue up 95 percent to £901m, benefiting from the growth of vapour in the US, which was up by 20 percent in Japan.

Its revenue increased by 25 percent and revenue from the strategic portfolio increased by 49 percent.

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